Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Back to the Future
Back to the Future is a 1985 film by Robert Zemeckis, written by Robert Zemeckis and Robert Gale, and starring Michael J. Fox. The movie opened on July 3, 1985 with artist Drew Struzan creating the film series' distinctive artwork used on movie posters and in other marketing. After the success of the film, its two sequels were filmed together, Back to the Future Part II and Back to the Future Part III, forming a trilogy. Back to the Future grossed $210 million dollars at the US box office, making it the highest grossing film of 1985. On December 17, 2002 Universal Home Video released Back to the Future: The Complete Trilogy on DVD and VHS. The box sets did very well when released, despite certain framing issues  .
Marty McFly's friend, Doc Brown, invites Marty to watch him test his newest invention, a time-machine, which is a modified De Lorean sports car. During the test, a group of Libyans (from whom Doc has stolen the plutonium necessary to fuel the time machine), come looking for revenge. Marty flees the Libyans in the De Lorean and inadvertently travels back to the year 1955. Marty accidentally interferes with the first meeting of his parents George McFly and Lorraine Baines, which threatens to destroy Marty's own existence. Unfortunately, Marty didn't bring any additional plutonium back with him, which in 1955 is "a little hard to come by." Consequently, Marty has to find Doc Brown's 1955 counterpart, find some way to fuel the time machine, and get his parents to fall in love in order to repair the damage his presence has done to the events of the past.
A hallmark of the Back to the Future trilogy and a contributer to its popularity is its use of "themes", that is, similar events and situations that recur in the different parts of the trilogy. For example:
- In Part I, in "Lou's Cafe" of 1955, Biff says to George McFly, "Hey, McFly, I thought I told you never to come in here." In Part II, that same space is occupied by "Cafe 80's" of 2015, where Biff's descendant Griff says to Marty Jr.: "Hey, McFly, I thought I told you to stay in here!". And in Part III, that same space is occupied by the Palace Saloon, where Biff's ancestor Buford says to Marty (mistaking him for Marty's ancestor Seamus), "Hey, McFly, I thought I done told you never to come in here."
- In Part I, Marty buys a Pepsi in an old-fashioned bottle and has trouble getting the cap off. Also in Part I, Marty orders a "Pepsi Free" (a popular variety of Pepsi in the 1980s) and is told, "If you want a Pepsi, you're gonna pay for it." In Part II, Marty buys a bottle of Pepsi in a futuristic bottle and can't take the lid off of that.
- In 1985, Mr. Strickland is the school disciplinarian. In 1885, the same actor is Marshall Strickland.
- In Part I there is a Statler Toyota dealership in Hill Valley. In Part III, there is a horse and buggy business in Hill Valley that goes by the name "Statler".
- In 1985, Biff tells George, "Hello? Hello? Anybody home? Huh? Think, McFly. Think! I gotta have time to get 'em retyped. Do you realize what would happen if I hand in my reports in your handwriting? I'll get fired. You wouldn't want that to happen, would ya?" In 1955, Biff tells George, "Hello? Hello? Anybody home? Hey, think, McFly. Think. I gotta have time to recopy it. Do you realize what would happen if I hand in my homework in your handwriting? I'll get kicked out of school. You wouldn't want that to happen, would ya?".
- In the beginning of Part I (1985), the mall is called Twin Pines Mall. At the end (also 1985, after an intervening adventure in 1955 in which Marty knocks down a pine tree at the farm that had occupied the space of the mall), it is called Lone Pine Mall.
- Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly
- Christopher Lloyd as Dr. Emmett L. Brown (aka Doc Brown)
- Lea Thompson as Lorraine Baines McFly
- Crispin Glover as George McFly
- Thomas F. Wilson as Biff Tannen
- James Tolkan as Mr. Strickland
- Claudia Wells as Jennifer Parker
- Billy Zane as Match
- J J Cohen as Skinhead
- Casey Siemaszko as 3-D
- Huey Lewis as the High-School Band Audition Judge
The series was very popular in the 1980s, even making fans out of celebrities like ZZ Top (who appeared in the third film) and President Ronald Reagan, who used the movie's title as a catch phrase in his speeches and considered accepting a role in the third film as the 1885 mayor of Hill Valley.
Production of the film began on November 26, 1984 with actor Eric Stoltz portraying "Marty McFly", because Fox's schedule with Family Ties initially prevented Fox from accepting the role. After filming began, the filmmakers realized that Stoltz was not right for the part. It is believed that they had, at that point, recorded about one third of the completed movie. By that time, Fox's schedule allowed him to sign on. Shooting was completed on April 20, 1985.
Universal Studios executive Sid Sheinberg nearly retitled the film Space Man from Pluto, because he didn't think that anyone would care to see a movie about time travel. Zemeckis contacted Steven Spielberg for help, who wrote Sheinberg a letter. Spielberg's letter thanked Sheinberg for the joke and said that they all really had a good laugh about it, knowing that Sheinberg would be too proud to admit that he was serious. The issue was then dropped and never brought up again.
- BTTF.com. Latest news, merchandise, exclusive photos, cast interviews.
- Back to the Future Online Message Board. Back to the Future Message Board
- Official site advertising the trilogy on DVD. Movie scripts, short clips from the films.
- The Back to the Future Tour. Visit the BTTF filming locations.
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